An Interview with Professor Samra

Clinical Professor of Pancreatic Surgery at The Australian Pancreatic Centre

PEOPLE SAY THAT YOU’RE THE BEST PANCREATIC SURGEON IN AUSTRALIA?

 

Well, I don’t ever say that I am the best, and I never like to give a sales pitch.
But I will say that I am passionate about surgery. I work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s all consuming and I am very tuned in.
But I don’t want to give the impression that it’s only hard work.
It’s also very rewarding.

OK, SO WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

 

Working with patients is the best part. Definitely.
Patients come to me feeling very stressed and I try to put myself in their shoes.
Normally surgeons will only operate on about 15 to 20% of patients, but I never write anyone off.
We typically operate on about 50% of patients, and the other 50% receive multimodal therapy from the MDT [Multi-Disciplinary Team].

CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU APPROACH PATIENT CARE?

 

Well, it’s about much more than just technical surgical skill – it’s about trust and relationships.  Remember, the patient is trusting their life in our hands!
So I start with the problem, and I define it. How are we going to manage it? Not just the physical illness, but also the stress and expectations.
I do things as quickly as possible.
I keep focussed on the problem and the next steps.
I always give reassurance, but not false reassurance.
I do what’s right for the patients, I look after them.
I don’t try to play God – a lot is out of our hands.

 

“I do

what’s right

for the patients”

SO IT’S AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP?

 

Absolutely. I typically care for patients for about 10 years.
I get to know their family, and I see them regularly.
I ask myself – how would I want to be treated if I were on the receiving end? I think it’s important to take the patient journey yourself to truly give proper care.
Wisdom and compassion say that sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.
I give patients the choice about quality of life. I educate. I empower.
I ask them – what do you want?

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THIS?

 

I’ve been a doctor for 28 years and I’ve been focussing on pancreatic surgery for the last 14 years.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS?

 

I’ll be doing exactly the same thing!